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Welfare Reform on the Web (March 2007): Pensions - overseas

Ideas and institutional change in social security: conversion, layering and policy drift

D. Béland

Social Science Quarterly, vol. 88, 2007, p.20-38

This article explores the development of Social Security in the United States, focusing specifically on the 1939 amendments, the reforms enacted during the first mandate of the Nixon Administration, and the push for privatization that emerged in the 1990s. As originally enacted in 1935, Social Security was a social insurance scheme which linked benefits tightly to contributions by workers and employers. The 1939 amendments made the scheme more redistributive through the introduction of spousal and survivor benefits, which favoured married couples over single people. During the Nixon era, increases in benefits transformed what was a relatively modest public pension scheme into a genuine income maintenance programme. In the 1990s conservative politicians favoured the development of private savings schemes alongside Social Security in order to weaken institutional support for that programme.

Updating the debate on intergenerational fairness in pension reform

K. Howse

Social Policy and Administration, vol.41, 2007, p. 50-64

This article examines the question of whether the baby boom generation should expect to pay more for their pensions because of their low fertility and greater longevity. Although the various articles and reports that have asked the question agree that it is reasonable for governments to require the baby boom generation to bear the full costs of their increased longevity for their own pension provision, they disagree over the costs of lower fertility. This article unpacks and examines the arguments involved in claims about the fairness or unfairness of government policies that would require the present working generation to bear the full impact of its lower fertility on the costs of retirement pensions.

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